With Valentine’s Day closing in, there’s a strong sense of love and friendship in the air; or at least, there should be!
With the way our society is today, there’s usually a lot more superficiality, and a lot less sincerity. But setting aside the cheap, over-commercialised way our culture has painted love, we should all take some time to sit back and really reflect on not just the word, but the true meaning of what it represents.
Love is not simply a feeling, or a perspective, it is life in action. It is a multidimensional, multifaceted energy. And, at the crux of its actuality, the most powerful force there is (all clichés set aside). Love is not weakness. It is strength. Do not make the mistake of thinking love is defective. The defects lie in our own insecurities, doubts, selfishness and fears. True love never fails. Sound fanciful and naïve? Well, that depends on your own experiences of course, but also how you are looking at it. As I said, there are different facets of love to consider.
A good way to view the different levels of love would be to look at the four expressions of it in the Ancient Greek interpretations: Philia, Storge, Eros and Agape.
Philia – The friendship love. It is the kind of love expressed in loyalty between friends and family and close community. It entails virtue, equality and familiarity.
Storge – The affection love. It is the kind of natural love expressed within family units; between parents and offspring, siblings and cousins, grandparents and grandchildren.
Eros – The passionate love. This is the expression of sensual desire and attraction. Although used to describe love of a physical nature, it can also be an expression of affection that is more intimate than Philia; a more platonic love.
Agape – The unconditional love. This is the unfailing love. The sacrificial love. The love one has for one’s children, or one’s spouse; the kind of love that is given unreservedly, gracefully, without conditions and without exclusions. It is also the expression of pure contentment, or high regard. This is the kind of love you give, regardless of what you get in return.
So, while you ponder on the wondrous, mysterious, life-changing marvel that is love, perhaps you can think of different ways you can express the various kinds of love this month to those within your circles of influence; to your colleagues, your classmates, your teachers, your family members, your friends, and even to strangers who cross your path.
– Live openly and generously.
People will never get the best from you if you are stingy or reserved, and you will never get the best from yourself, which will only result in regrets. We don’t have stories like Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol simply as a passing muse. Learn from the wisdom of others and live to expand your life, not contract it.
– Offer your time and talents freely.
We work and strive in order to receive something in return for our efforts. Of course. Let’s face it, we can’t pay the bills with charity. But there are also opportunities to extend yourself without expecting returned favours or rewards. Make the effort to do because you can, not because you have to.
– Value the feelings and opinions of others.
Even if you disagree with them, at least be sensible about it.
Don’t hate for hating’s sake, or spite because everyone else around you is being spiteful.
There’s already too much nonsense and stupidity in the world. Don’t diminish yourself by adding to it.
– Encourage and inspire those around you.
Surround yourself with laughter, fun, hope and possibility. If everyone just laughed a little more, worried a little less, and cared enough about things to do something useful, the world would definitely be a better place!
Let’s share the love this wonderful February of 2013. Let’s not wait for a thought or a feeling. Act now, and marvel at the thoughts and feelings that result of those actions. Goodness begets goodness, my fellow readers. Try it and see!